Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Calendar and To-Do List That Works (Part 1)

Key idea: Handle a piece of paper only once. At most, twice. 
Key idea: Find a system that works, then trust the system.

My brother-in-law saw my recent post about mail and questioned me (in a loving way) about my suggestion to handle paper just once. He started telling me about a manila file folder system his former boss encouraged him to implement (like the one described here). Important papers were filed based on the date that they needed to be addressed.

Don't get me wrong, I love nothing better than a fresh stack of files or papers (oh, the lovely school supplies in stores right now), but there are some limitations to a hard copy system. You can perform tasks if you have the paper to remind you, but we all know that things can get lost. Hard copies are also only accessible from one location. So I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I recommend going electronic with your calendar and to-do list if you haven't already.

At work, I use and adore Outlook. Say what you will about Microsoft, but I love having e-mail, my calendar, a task list and business contacts all in one place. Plus, isn't it cool to be able to assign tasks to your coworkers?  However, for personal priorities, Gmail and Google Calendar have become our go-to programs. A lot of the systems hubby and I now use were devised because we had issues like paying bills twice or booking conflicting appointments. Plus it's great being are able to access our calendar, tasks and messages from any computer or phone.

Here's a snippet of what our calendar looks like. My appointments are in purple and hubby's are teal, but you can adjust those settings however you like. We can see each others' calendars because we both use Gmail and set our accounts to share calendars. This is especially great for families, but works in small offices, too.

Another nice feature with the calendar is that you can set a pop-up reminder or request an email for upcoming appointments (or both), so you don't forget what's happening next.

For more information on Google calendar, see here. My next post will address an efficient way to categorize your to-do items. It will be full of good stuff you won't want to miss.

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